Girl From Kenya Inspires 50,000 Meals On World Food Day

10/19/2012 01:05 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2012

ROME—A young girl from one of the biggest slums in Africa inspired supporters to raise more than 50,000 school meals during a World Food Day campaign that surged past its goal in the final hours before the deadline.

The campaign revolved around a video about a girl named Molly growing up in Nairobi’s Mathare slum. Much of the footage was shot by Molly herself using a video camera that was given to her last year by WFP staff in Kenya.

“The footage she shot is amazing because it captures the real nitty gritty of everyday life for the poorest of the poor,” says Web Editor Martin Penner. “It's her telling us how she lives, what's important for her. No film-maker could have gotten material as authentic and raw as this.”

Like more than 20 million other children around the world, Molly and her classmates are getting an education with the help of WFP’s school meals programme.

Down to the wire

The campaign gave supporters the chance to provide a meal to a child like Molly by watching a video illustrating the impact of that food on her life and taking a short quiz based on what they had seen. 

Supporters also had the option of making a donation, which many did. Though primarily a drive to raise awareness, the campaign raised over $10,000 for school meals programmes around the world.

It’s an impressive tally for a campaign that came down to the wire. Two weeks after it launched and with less than 24 hours to go before World Food Day, the campaign had raised just over 10,000 meals. “We were starting to get a little nervous,” Penner admits.

But WFP supporters rallied on World Food Day to put the total over 50,000. People from dozens of countries and private-sector companies watched and shared the video, which was seen more than 172,000 times in English, Spanish, French and German.

School meals

All of the meals raised through the campaign will go to children like Molly whose surest route to a better life is through an education. School meals not only give kids an added incentive to keep coming to school, but give them the energy to do their best in class.

That’s especially important for girls who are often kept at home by their parents to work and do chores. Studies show that educated women have higher incomes and healthier families. According to the World Bank, an extra year of schooling can raise a girl’s future wages by 10 to 20 percent and cut rates of infant mortality by up to 10 percent. 

“Molly is an amazing person,” said Penner. “But there are hundreds and hundreds of kids like Molly out there, kids who just need a chance to show what they can do, to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and hunger.”